Submarine Channel


I Love Alaska

How much do our personal search queries reveal about us? On August 4, 2006, the search queries of 650,000 AOL users accidentally ended up online. The Minimovie I Love Alaska by Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug reveals the heartbreaking search history of user #711391…

The Story

August 4, 2006, the personal search queries of 650,000 AOL (America Online) users accidentally ended up on the Internet, for all to see. These search queries were entered in AOL’s search engine over a three-month period. After three days AOL realized their blunder and removed the data from their site, but the sensitive private data had already leaked to several other sites.

I love Alaska tells the story of one of those AOL users. We get to know a religious middle-aged woman from Houston, Texas, who spends her days at home behind her TV and computer. Her unique style of phrasing combined with her putting her ideas, convictions and obsessions into AOL’s search engine, turn her personal story into a disconcerting novel of sorts.

Over a period of three months, a portrait of a woman emerges who is diligently searching for like-minded souls. The list of her search queries read aloud by a voice-over reads like a revealing character study of a somewhat obese middle-aged lady in her menopause, who is looking for a way to rejuvenate her sex life. In the end, when she cheats on her husband with a man she met online, her life seems to crumble around her. She regrets her deceit, admits to her Internet addiction and dreams of a new life in Alaska.


About Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug

Sander Plug (1969) works as a freelance graphic designer and artist. He graduated in 1993 as industrial designer at the technical university in Delft. He finished his Masters in Art in 2004 at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. With his poster designs he won the Dutch Theatre Poster Award, an Australian Silver Bullit and several ADCN awards. He has shown his art at exhibitions in Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Barcelona.

Lernert Engelberts (1977) worked as a director and writer for dutch television. He made Driving Miss Palmen, a dutch soap set in India, he worked for art program RAM, Bonanza. He wrote a dramatized garden program with Arjan Ederveen and directed with Michiel van Erp in 2006 the documentary Warm Stories. Lernert is also finishing his first straight to pocket short stories Real Bad People. Lernert also worked as an editor for Re-magazine

Lernert and Sander are currently working together on different projects. In the last two years they collaborated on videoclips, short art movies and various television programs. Their ‘Chocolate Bunny’ became an instant internet hit in 2007. They were both are regulary contributers of BUTT Magazine.


AOL search data leak (Wikipedia)
A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749 (New York Times)




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